Octaveslur's Digit System

Rather than adding more comments to my thread in the GMM 2012 group, I’d like to use this place to talk about the digit system I’m working on.

First of all, as I mentioned in the original thread, I had originally planned to try building a 3-3-3 PAO, but discovered a lot of problems due to its sheer size. Any phonetic system (and I tried a few variants including a couple I invented based on phoneme frequency) starts to have sparseness even at the second level, let alone the third. This is what motivated Josh to start using other languages to fill in his Ben system. Although strictly adhering to the phonetic plan is certainly not required, the more pegs you have that are not phonetic, the harder the system is to learn. One thing I’ve learned however, is not to be too rigid when thinking about these things, and just let the brain do what it wants. The main problem with a large system is learning it well enough to get it up to speed. Just getting a small system up to speed is like playing whack-a-mole. One day most of your images are coming very fast and there are a few that are a problem and take many seconds, and so you rehearse those more and then the next day it’s a different set.

So, let’s cut to the chase since most people here probably just want to see some images I have. I have a 2-2-2-2 system, which gives me 8 digits per locus. It’s a minor upgrade from PAO, but it comes with some special challenges and probably is not suitable for everyone.

1st component: A person
2nd component: An action
3rd component: An object
4th component: A tool

So one can call this a “POAT” or “PATO” system. I like PATO better because it reminds of a fast food chain in Texas I like, El Pato.

Now, a tool is a special kind of object. It’s one that you can directly control with your hands or it could also be a part of your body. And it’s usually not something extremely large or hard to handle. The objects in the 3rd component are less restricted and could be larger. In my system, there is no overlap between tools and objects. They are separate images.

In terms of actions, when building the system they are effectively extracted from tools and factored into their own component. In many cases, there is no single word to describe the action. For example, “stethoscope” is a tool, but “listening for heartbeat as with a stethoscope” is an action. The is no word “stethoscoping” in the English language, but that doesn’t bother me. I know what it is regardless.

Verbing nouns weirds language. -Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes)

Because the actions are closer to the tools they are not logically bound to the persons like Dominic System would stipulate. So my actions have nothing to do with the persons who have the same numerical encoding, as you will see. I don’t particularly see this as a disadvantage.

Before showing the entries, there’s another thing that needs explanation. My encoding is half category/half phonetic. The first digit is a category, and the second is Major system phonetic. I used visual dictionaries to help me come up with the categories, and also some of the images.


Number Person
0 actresses (drama)
1 actors (drama)
2 actresses (comedy)
3 actors (comedy)
4 female leaders
5 male leaders
6 female cartoon
7 male cartoon
8 female performers
9 male performers

Number Tool
0 sports
1 do-it-yourself
2 scientific or medical instruments
3 power tools
4 weapons
5 leisure activities
6 gardening / farm
7 kitchen
8 office supplies
9 body parts

Number Object
0 sports
1 air transportation
2 water transportation
3 ground transportation
4 earth
5 space
6 animals
7 clothing
8 energy
9 plants

The actions are not phonetic, but take the category from the tools so they don’t get a seperate listing above. As I mentioned, they are sometimes not easily expressed with single words anyway.

Some actual entries (in PAOT order):

10 = Sean Connery / sawing / seaplane / saw (handsaw)
47 = Condoleeza Rice / shooting arrows (like crossbow) / cloud / crossbow
67 = Cruella de Vil / watering / kangaroo / watering can
60 = Shuan White / headbutting / sunflower / skull

So, the sequence 10101010 becomes:

“Sean Connery is sawing the wings off a seaplane with a handsaw.”

Whereas 10476760 becomes:

“Sean Connery is shooting arrows at a kangroo with skull (that is retrofitted to act as a crossbow).”

And 60671047 becomes:

“Shuan White is watering a seaplane with a crossbow.”

The obvious disadvantage of this system is tools need to morph. If I can’t imagine a watering can or a skull shooting arrows I have a serious problem, for example. Fortunately, this kind of morphing seems almost instantaneous to me.

Anyway, now I have to learn and apply the system. Wish me luck!


Let me just share another line that cracked my up while studying:

51 Adolf Hitler / flicking (like a tiddlywink) / death star / tiddlywink

1 Like

You’ve been busy, Octaveslur. That looks like a potentially powerful system. I know what you mean about the morphing. Somehow your brain knows what it means even when it’s expressed somewhat ambiguously. It’s almost dreamlike in a way, such as in a dream you’ll see a living room that is not your living room but it “plays” your living room in the dream :slight_smile:

1 Like

This seems like a very interesting system! It will be slow when you first start using it I should imagine due to the categories you have but with enough practice I think it will become second nature. Do keep us posted of how you get on with this system.

I really like this idea. I’ve gone through many different PAO-(X) type systems. All have failed. Trying to use colors, sounds, extra objects, extra persons. But this idea I really like. I’m gonna give it a go to see. The problem with adding a 4th dimension to the image is it slows down the construction time…

But we’ll see. When ever I construct an image, say:

617-52-39 (shaun white skateboarding on a shoe)…it defaults assumes that he is skateboarding with a skateboard on a shoe. Would be cool to actually define what he is doing the action with rather than on. So maybe he is 617-52-39-48 skateboarding on a shoe with a dog, or on a dog…I guess I’d have to figure out which way to “morph” that. Cool idea though.

Nice idea for a system… If you could do 3-digit system, it could be 12 digits per locus.

I like “PATO” – it’s easy to remember because it means “duck” in Portuguese. :slight_smile:

A 4-digit PATO would be 4000 images. For the professionals, I think.

More realistically, I think it is easier to find 1000 T’s than 1000 A’s, so what might happen first is to create a 3-3 PT system, and just let the A at T merge when working at that scale. It would be like a very large PO but with the O’s chosen to facilate more active compound images. At 2000 images it should be conquerable on the same order of effort required for Ben card system.

It would also give a path to a 3-digit PAO that doesn’t suffer from the dearth of verbs in the dictionary. One simply creates a 3-digit PTO instead and it functions pretty much the same way. Also, the morphing I mentioned goes away if one merges A and T.

For people who don’t like the morphing, just straight PTO without the factored ‘A’ might have some value. Some people reject PAO because they find actions hard to visualize / distinguish. A PTO gives you concrete things to visualize. So I think that’s an idea for people with 2-digit systems or 1-card systems, too.

It seems a powerful systems, but it will take a deal of time to master it. I think my system is quite similar to your in some extent. It is the P-A-A-O-O (2-1-2-2-2) with 100 images only. First, i build the pure PAOO which follow the Dominic assignment. Sb doing st with st, every image of OO comes naturally from the P. So, i have PAOO.

For the balance A, i will creat a theme for each ten digits based on the shape system
0 = Ball --> bouncing, kick, round
1 = Pen --> Colorful, watery
2 = Swan/ Duck --> Fire ( as i like the roasted duck) , flying…

It means that A should be the Action, Adjective or Adverb (whatever you can imagine from the shape system). This idea comes when i find time consuming to build the PAO (3-2-2) as Nelson system ( actually i am quite lazy :slight_smile: )
I think the simple system & practice will makes the power & speed.

“Shuan White is watering a seaplane with a crossbow.”

This somehow reminds me of diagraming sentences in Highschool.

Shuan White is the subject noun

predicate verb is- watering

Object- usually, direct object, the seaplane

with a crossbow- a parenthetical method modifying the watering

Of course I think any system not based on English grammar, at least for cases where English is the native language, is likely not to work well. What I like about the addition of the tools is that the morphing produces a more ridiculous image which might be more memorable (water shooting out of a crossbow), and also the tool concept is so integral to the image so that we really have created one complex image from 4 separate images. Like the PAO system, but with the addition of a separate integrated image.

1 Like

So because of generally being busy with life, I dropped my training shortly after my last post here, so it’s been the better part of a year since I tried to use the system. I did fill in all of the slots before I quit, though, and I still have the Excel spreadsheet.

Right now, I’m trying to get the persons down again since it’s been so long. The simplest thing I do is go through a printed sheet with the numbers 00 - 99 listed on them and then read it and try to recall the corresponding person. Yesterday it took me about 6 minutes and I had forgotten a few of them and had to look them up in the spreadsheet. Today I remembered them all but it took 5:41 to go through them. That’s not super terrible, considering a) I’m rusty b) the best time I ever had doing that is 2:51 and c) when I first created the system it was over 12 minutes.

What happens is that there are outliers. Most will come up in under a second, but I could sit there for over 10 seconds trying to remember that 44 = Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with that image, because the next time the outliers will be somewhere else, so it’s like playing Whack-a-Mole. In sprints of 10 (say 20-29) I can get a time of 0:14 if I don’t get stuck, so 2:20 should be possible if I can do all the persons without getting stuck. My goal is under 2:00 before I start practicing the other components of the system, but ultimately I have to get a lot faster than that.

A great addition to PAO. It worked for me :slight_smile: . The morphing actually helps my images, makes them more unique. One journey trough my palace and all my numbers had the tool addition. It feels like I was holding a sword (PAO) and tried to switch to a longsword (3 digit system). A longsword is to heavy for me, but this sword (el PATO) is something between the sword and the longsword. It’s powerful and dinamical :smiley: .

1 Like

Maybe I am different; I am an introvert. Remembering objects seems easier than remembering people to me.
That’s why I went back to the Major system and just created an alternate list for the last two digits of a four digit sequence. Someone should do a study to see if people versus objects are say easier to remember for example to use the Link system on (or the loci system, or any other type of peg system). Unfortunately I would need some subjects and I only work with about 10 people, about evenly balanced between introverts and extroverts. I could counterbalance the order of the material: linking people versus linking objects. Nothing wrong with trying to make our mnemonic systems evidence based. I know many of you have experimented with systems using an N of one. Anybody done any experiments on more than one person to judge a new technique, or has anyone ever compared two different techniques using several or more persons? If we found out a lot of persons remembered objects better than persons, then the PAO system might could be replaced with some similar object based technique, maybe imagining an object doing some action on another object to get 6 digits (OAO system). Plus everyone can visualize objects, whereas not everyone can visualize people. I can get a real vague image in my head of say Sheena Easton, but I can visualize a basketball clearer.

By the way, someone may have said, “el pato” is a duck in Spanish.

I don’t think I would have problems with the morphing of tools. In my case i think it might make the images more absurd and unique, and so, memorable. Very useful post, thanks.